That’s Limerick City 2k14

The biggest news story in Ireland of so far this year features a rap by teenagers from Moyross, Co. Limerick, created to celebrate Limerick City of Culture 2014.

(The rap starts at 1.53 )

The well written rap clearly shows the pride the teenagers have in coming from Limerick. Despite being short (just 23 seconds long), it is honest, evocative and optimistic for the year to come.

However, the reason it made the news was due to a request to censor it from the chief executive of Limerick City of Culture, who felt that the reference to the city “looking rough” was “really not the image we want to portray”. An interesting interpretation, particularly as the line finishes with “there’s no place you’d rather live”. The artistic director, along with two programmers for the year long celebration, has recently resigned citing a number of reasons, one of which apparently referenced interference by the chief executive. Consequently, a public meeting was held last night in Limerick where frustrations about the organisation of the event were vented.

Audio Recording of Public Meeting, Clarion Hotel, Limerick City 3 January 2014

An audio recording of the meeting is available here: )

Today’s most recent outpouring of frustration was humorously referenced by the Rubber Bandits, another talented Limerick duo:



Limerick City of Culture 2014 Facebook Page


(via 12.00pm 04/01/2013 )

Full Text of the Facebook Status

At 11.05pm last night in an act of solidarity to support the cultural groups and citizens of Limerick this page, the official Limerick City of Culture 2014 page was taken over into in order to ensure that the people of Limerick and the cultural groups are heard and that no more fudging and duplicity will take place in public office.

We are seeking a public statement from Conn Murray City and County Manager on the five interviewed candidates for the CEO post,with details of where and when these interviews took place.

We are also calling for more people to attend the next public meeting to enable growing support for good governance on the city of culture board, which up to now has shown itself to be incompetent appointing staff without due process and loosing three senior staff members on their watch.

We further continue the call for the resignation of CEO Patricia Ryan who has no expertise in management, culture or arts or finance. Instead we call for the post of CEO to be advertised alongside the post for Artistic Director that was announced last night and that expressions of interest are sought for both posts. Ms Ryan can apply for one of these posts in competition that is fair and transparent.

Irrespective of whether Mr Cox recommended or did not recommend Ms Ryan, we believe this is besides the point as Mr Murray was aware of their association and so were other members of the committee. The fact that a chairman of a board can negate having any involvement in a key appointment is staggering.

Furthermore we call for the complete resignation of the registered board of directors which currently stands at just two people – on official company house records Mr Tom Gilligan Finance Director and Mr Conn Murray are the only two registered directors, the remainder of people that call themselves board members, such as Mr Cox are a board in name only with no legal authority and a committee with no official jurisdiction. Their acceptance of the resignations of three posts this week should be deemed as null and void as they have no legal authority to make those decisions. A brand new team of professional people is required to ensure that this project is salvaged and given the best possible chance.

Clearly, all is not well in Limerick. The specifics of who, what, why and how are being thrashed out online and offline in social media and traditional media across the country, and the issue may or may not be resolved over the coming days.  The year of celebrations that had only just kicked off on New Year’s Eve now seems to be grinding to a dramatic standstill.

Regardless of what has gone wrong, the rap by the Moyross duo is just one example of young Irish talent that could and should be showcased as part of the celebrations. Despite being excluded from the New Year’s Eve celebrations, they have confirmed that they would be happy to perform at any stage during the year, if they are asked. Given the surge in support for the group in recent days, it will be surprising if they are not asked.

To all of those in Limerick City, if I can borrow some words from the lads from Moyross – please show your love and shine your light out for the kids. Let’s try to shift our well worn cloak of corrupt and petty politics and get back to focusing on what really matters. We owe the youth of Ireland that much.

(For those interested in hearing more from the Moyross Youth Crew – )


Someone emigrates from Ireland every 5 minutes..

..and the typical emigrant is Irish and aged between 15 and 24, according to this morning’s CSO report.

One person emigrated from Ireland every 6 minutes in the twelve month period to April 2013.

Today, someone emigrates every 5 minutes, if the trends since 2006 are anything to go by (as detailed in an interactive infographic I blogged about here)


Figures via

Trends also suggest that emigrants are becoming less likely to return to Ireland in the near future.

89,000 people emigrated from Ireland in the twelve months before April 2013.

57.2% (50,900) of these were Irish.

Those under the age of 25 comprised the largest group emigrating, at 47% of the total figures, or 41,600 people.

“Significant Increase in Net Emigration”


Figures via

The report noted that the net emigration among Irish nationals has ‘increased significantly, rising from 25,900 in 2012 to 35,200 in 2013.

This is an increase of 35% in the number of Irish people who are leaving the country and are not being replaced by other Irish people returning.

The overall net emigration was 33,100 (due to the immigration of other nationalities).

Again, the largest age group in the net emigration figures are those under the age of 25.

21,800 more young people aged between 15 – 24 left Ireland in 2012 than returned.

The net emigration figures for the past four years have been steadily increasing, as the figures from today’s report show.

2010 was the first time that our overall emigration outweighed immigration since 1995, and even then net emigration was a mere 1,900.

Net emigration has not been so high (ie over 4000) nor occurring for as many consecutive years since the period between 1987 and 1990.

(1987 is as far back as today’s report goes.)

source: Table 1 Components of the annual population change, 1987 - 2013 of CSO Population and Migration Estimates, released 29 August

source: Table 1 Components of the annual population change, 1987 – 2013 of CSO Population and Migration Estimates, released 29 August

72,400 young people aged between 15 and 24 have emigrated without being replaced by immigrants, i.e. 59% of the total.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going – we Irish are a hard-working bunch.

In Ireland at the moment more and more jobs are becoming absorbed by the JobBridge scheme. In order to be eligible, you must be continually unemployed for three months and in receipt of the dole. As the numbers show, rather than wait around in the hope that jobs will stop becoming absorbed by this scheme, young Irish people are instead emigrating to all over the world, from where they are becoming increasingly unlikely to return.

The National Youth Council of Ireland’s 2013 Report (pdf here) is a very thorough report which surveyed many young Irish people who have emigrated.

These young Irish people had the following recommendations for the government:

  • Plan for the future and provide incentives to attract emigrants to return to Ireland when the labour market has recovered.

  • Track and profile those leaving the country – collect data on who they are and where they are going?

  • Connect and engage with the Irish Diaspora particularly those leaving the country at the present time.

I’m glad to see that this year the CSO for the first time included information on the destinations of our emigrants, and I hope it will continue to collect even more data about our emigrants.

I have mentioned before my anger at seeing my tax money being used to promote The Gathering, which asks me tauntingly who I would like to invite home.

I’m sure many other Irish taxpayers would support our taxes being used to prioritise youth employment. In fact, I can’t see any downside for our politicians to prioritise this at all.

One of our Ministers recently told an Australian audience that it is the “present government’s ambition” that “hopefully some..young people will have the opportunity to return to Ireland”, “now that we are on a recovery trajectory”.

I look forward to hearing the government’s response to today’s report, I hope that their ‘ambition’ has changed into a more concrete ‘goal’ and commitment.

I encourage other young people like myself to speak up and ask for a response, should one not be forthcoming.

Journalists, take note – I think this is much more relevant to a lot of people than whether or not Brian Cowen feels offended by pen pictures he was awarded with in the past. As one in four households across the country has been affected by emigration, articles on the government’s response to today’s report will reward you with plenty of site traffic and interesting comments, if you choose to enable this feature. You are also guaranteed engagement with our new diaspora members, and as the NYCI report shows, they are eager to engage with their home country that they’ve been forced to leave.

The CSO Report is available online here

Ámhrán na gCupán* – Coláiste Lurgan

Every summer, many young Irish people go to Irish colleges in the Gaeltacht (parts of the country where people speak Irish daily) for two or three weeks. Students from the ages of twelve to eighteen are hosted by local families and are discouraged from speaking any English during their stay.

A typical day in Irish college consists of Irish classes in the morning in the local community hall, sports/beach in the afternoons and céilís (traditional set dancing) in the evenings.

Two years ago, 600 young people in an Irish college in Connemara, Coláiste Lurgan, began producing songs as Gaeilge (in Irish) and uploading them onto their YouTube channel .

Their most recent video, Avvici v Lurgan – “Wake Me Up” as Gaeilge has been viewed over 1,500,000 times, and Avvici himself gave the version the thumbs up on facebook, commenting;

“This one is so cool! I can’t understand a word but I love it”.

The following video is their take of Anna Kendrick’s Cup Song from Pitch Perfect, I recently came across it and thought it deserved to be shared.

*Ámhrán na gCupán is the Irish for ‘Cup Song’.

Coláiste Lurgan’s own website is here: and all songs can be downloaded free of charge. Details are available on their YouTube channel.

(Fun fact: the ‘cup technique’ appeared first in this video by a Swedish trio – so  the above video is brought to you by Irish teenagers, paying tribute to a song from an American musical which was in turn influenced by a group of Swedish teenagers paying tribute to a Swedish pop singer, as a friend of mine pointed out.)

Blackberry Picking

It’s that time of the year again here in Ireland – blackberries are appearing in the brambles!

As a kid I used to spend ages on blackberry picking trips, filling sand buckets or any containers with as many as possible.  On a recent trip we collected “a baby’s worth” of blackberries – over 8lb! It looks like there’ll be plenty more to come, too. A real sign that summer is coming to an end, blackberry picking always reminds me of Seamus Heaney’s poem;

Juicy Blackberries

Juicy Blackberries

Late August, given heavy rain and sun..For a full week, the blackberries would ripen…....You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer’s blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered....Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard’s […]

( Blackberry-Picking, by Seamus Heaney, Irish Nobel Prize Winner)

So far, we’ve made a blackberry and apple crumble and.. lime green blackberry jelly.

Please feel free to share any memories you have of blackberry picking – or any recipe suggestions for the rest of our catch!

Blackberry and Apple Crumble

Blackberry and Apple Crumble

Blackberries & Lime Jelly

The New Quiet Man

I was recently invited to one of the many celebrations that take place in country towns around Ireland on the August Bank Holiday weekend.

While we were there, surrounded by excited chatting, laughter and live music, one of the other guests became silent.

Noticing my inquisitive glance, he shared an observation with me;
“It’s funny,” he began, “how, when you’ve been away for five years, you get used to analysing how people from different countries interact with each other. When I think of coming back to Ireland, I look forward to being able to simply chat with people. But here, now that I’ve come back to rural Ireland for a visit, I find myself observing people once again. I’ve forgotten how Irish people interact.”

During the weekend, from time to time he compared his own home place (also in rural Ireland) to where we were. Although we didn’t speak more about this particular moment, his words have stayed with me. He originally moved away to do a postgrad, and has lived abroad ever since.

As more and more of my friends are moving away, this is something I have started to wonder about. How you see your country will change once you live somewhere else, of course. This, I think, can only be a good thing. “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page”, as one quote goes.

But this is something markedly different. It seems that with emigration comes the chance that you may find yourself alienated a little on your return.

It reminds me of those identity crises so beloved by literature theorists. The ‘blurred boundaries’ phenomenon that can apply to anything from nationality, race, sexual orientation or gender. While rich in material to explore and interrogate from an academic point of view, I doubt they are as satisfying to experience first hand.

To my friends abroad – I hope ye don’t find yourselves silent observers too often, if ever, on your visits home. We Irish are known for our eloquence. A feeling of alienation shouldn’t change this on any emigrant’s return.

Where have Ireland’s emigrants gone? 2006 – 2011

Interesting collation, and interactive representation of, data from 2006 to 2011 on the numbers emigrating from Ireland by Locus Insight.

“In 2011, an average of 209 emigrated from Ireland every day, 9 left every hour. One person left every 7 minutes.”(Interactive graphic thumbnail is visible on far right of the bottom menu of their homepage: )

Detailed breakdown of where emigrants from Ireland went, 2006 - 2011


A Day in the Life in Ireland

My work day begins like any other – I’m busy responding to queries and meeting requests in my minimum-wage office job with ever increasing responsibilities. In this economy, you are grateful to have work in a field you love as a graduate – the onus is on you to reap the opportunities such positions proffer. Mid morning I notice a text message from a long number with an unfamiliar area code. It transpires that my latest friend to leave home has procured an Australian mobile number and is checking in to let me know, as his Irish sim will expire soon. Initially happy to hear from him, my mood falters a little when I confess that my biggest news since we last spoke is that one of our few remaining friends here at home has just handed in her notice to her JobBridge placement with the intention of heading to London. Armed with a degree and a masters, she plans to progress her career and not have to work two jobs to get by over there. “She’s dead right,” he replies, and I agree.

Smiling at my friend’s excited anticipation of heading to a shooting range for the first time, I’m transported to Australia as we chat while I head to the ATM on my lunch break. What greets me is a slap in the face that jolts me back home.

Who would I like to invite home for the Gathering? My hand freezes half way to selecting ‘withdraw €10′ . I can’t take my eyes away from the photograph of young women my age smiling over drinks. My friends are now scattered across the world – San Francisco, London, Brussels, Spain, Australia and even New Zealand. My tax money has paid for this ad, I realise. My friends’ tax money has paid for this ad.  With a lump in my throat, and brimming with anger, I join my colleagues for lunch. I am unusually silent throughout, and make an excuse to leave earlier than usual. I think of my friends, all asking me for the news from home. They tell me hearing that home is not the same is no consolation, as it means that even if they could realize their fantasy to return it would not be to the same home that they left. I don’t know what to tell them, other than make new Skype dates, post more packages and renew my promise to come see them as soon as I can.

A few evenings later, towards the end of the night I am chatting with a friend who’s home for a short visit. There is a pause in our conversation, during which she takes a deep breath, looks me in the eye and declares “I probably wouldn’t be saying this to you if I wasn’t a little drunk – but I really think you need to leave this city – there  isn’t anything for you here. I love this place, it’s a great city, and I want to come back and raise my family here in a few more years, but even if you do get work – there are no people our age left here.” She gazes up and down the busy streets as if to prove her point and, I have to admit by doing so, she does.

As it happens, I am an avid traveller – but I am probably still here as I am also a stubborn optimist. I would love to be able to stay and become a bigger part of the place that I have grown up in. Perhaps the time has come to be a realist. I have to come to terms with the fact that my Irish sim will be more than likely be expiring soon too. In the meantime I hope to maintain this blog as an ongoing update to my friends, who, as recent graduates in the past few years, have all become reluctant members of the famous Irish diaspora.

This is how it is at home lads – they said to tell ye that ye’re all welcome back for The Gathering.